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Women around the world: Laos

In collaboration with EyeEm, DW invited photographers to share images that offer an insight into the lives of women around the world. This one was taken in Laos by Ferdinand Henke.

DW: Where did you take the picture?

Ferdinand Henke: The picture was taken in Luang Prabang during my trip through northern Laos.

Do you come from or live in the country where it was taken?

No, I was only traveling around Laos. I’m from Germany but I have worked and lived in Switzerland for four years now.

Who is in the picture?

Two local elderly ladies I met during a walk through the side streets of Luang Prabang’s historic old town.

What inspired you to take it?

On my travels I always have my camera handy. I’m looking for moments and pictures that show the authentic life in the country. When I saw the ladies relaxing in their chairs and having a good conversation, it was one of those moments.

What does your image say about the culture of women in the country where it was taken?

I guess besides the dress, the picture isn’t very typical for the culture of woman in Laos. A typical picture would be women working or taking care of their children. When you travel through Laos, you see women working a lot, in the fields, in the market, in shops, or managing guesthouses.

How important are gender issues to you personally?

I grew up with a little sister and was raised by parents who both had jobs and equally shared the housework, so I learned not to make a difference between women or men.

I think in western countries we claim to have better female rights than elsewhere, but women still earn less, are under represented in leading positions and struggle to combine a career with having a family. Sexists become president and there are discussions about banning abortion…

How important do you feel they are in the country where you image was taken?

The Lao constitution garantees gender equality, but that is just the theory. Even though roles and the status of Lao women vary in different ethnic groups, over all women are seen as secondary to men. Most people in Laos are Buddhist, and Lao Buddhism teaches that woman have to be reborn as men before they can attain nirvana. I think that says a lot about gender issues in Laos.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

EyeEmis a Berlin-based community of 18 million photographers from all over the world.




25.04.2017 | 7:39